Pirates brace for FCC battle 
                          Hollywood Reporter
                         -  Sept. 3, 1998

                           Pirates brace for FCC battle / Plan to taunt
                          agency by b'casting 'in front of their building'

                           By Brooks Boliek

                          WASHINGTON -- Pirate radio operators plan to dare
                          the FCC to shut them down next month in a bold
                          action designed to draw attention to their
                          free-the-airwaves cause.
                          "We're going to broadcast from the sidewalk in
                          front of their building," said Pete tri Dish, one
                          of the Oct. 10 demonstration's organizers. Dish,
                          a 28-year-old carpenter, was a broadcaster on
                          Philadelphia Radio Mutiny until the FCC shut down
                         the operation during its summer crackdown on
                         illegal radio operators.

                         Dish and Radio Mutiny have organized protests
                         like this in Philadelphia but have never taken
                        their fight so brazenly before the federal
                        airwaves police.

                        "The first time, we did a broadcast in front of
                        Benjamin Franklin's printing press because it was
                        symbolic of free speech," he said. "The second
                        time, we dared them to arrest us in front of the
                        Liberty Bell. This time, we'll be right in front
                        of them."

                        While some may scoff at the protests, Dish argues
                        that they point out the inanity of the rules that
                        make their broadcasts illegal. The FCC contends
                        that the pirates interfere with legitimate
                        commercial broadcasts and raise public safety
                        concerns because they can interfere with aircraft
                        and other radio traffic. By broadcasting in front
                        of the FCC's M Street headquarters, the pirates
                        say they will demonstrate that they do not have
                        that effect.

                        "If they think their law is so important, they
                        should enforce it or change it," Dish said. "We'll
                        probably broadcast the Bill of Rights, and the
                        1934 Communications Act to remind them they are
                        supposed to serve the public interest of the
                        people, not these big media companies."

                        Radio Mutiny prided itself on presenting
                        alternative broadcasting. Programs have featured
                        poetry, American Indian issues, prison issues and
                        various political movements. Its Web page
                        describes the programming as "rabidly
                        nonhierarchical, decisively anti-authoritarian,
                        avidly pro-feminist, staunchly anti-racist and
                        resolutely anti-homophobic."

                        The broadcasts, which began in November 1996,
                        could be heard on 91.3 FM throughout most of West
                        Philadelphia and some parts of Center City. The
                        signal reached a three-mile radius of the station,
                        which was on the top floor of a row house on Pine
                        Street, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

                        The protesters, who will conduct a
                        microbroadcasting workshop Oct. 9, also plan to
                        broadcast in front of the National Association of
                        Broadcasters building, which is a short walk from
                        the FCC.

                        Lyn Gerry, a Los Angeles Web-page designer who
                        broadcasts on a 20-watt pirate station in a Latino
                        area of the city and keeps up the radio4all Web
                        page, said the NAB and FCC are too closely allied.

                        "We see these two entities as inextricably
                        linked," she said. "We see the NAB as the FCC's
                        puppet master on this issue."

                        FCC chairman Bill Kennard, who has been head of
                        the agency since its crackdown on pirates began,
                        said the commission intends to enforce the law.

                        "We'll shut down any pirate operating illegally
                        that we learn about," Kennard said. "This
                        commission will not take a lax attitude about

                        While Kennard has overseen a crackdown on
                        pirates, he has also been sympathetic to their
                        cause, agreeing to have the panel examine
                        developing a low-power radio license. Kennard has
                        argued that low-power radio could counterbalance
                        radio industry consolidation.

                        "Many new entrants are not million-dollar
                        players, but they want to speak to their
                        communities," he said.

                        But Dish doubts Kennard's sincerity.

                        "We're there to express our outrage at their
                        two-faced policy," he said. "They continue to
                        attack all these stations that the chairman is
                        positing as a salvation."

                        An NAB official said the protest is wrong-headed.

                        "We're for free speech," NAB spokesman Dennis
                        Wharton said. "We just don't want airplanes to
                        crash because of pirate broadcasters, and we want
                        to preserve the integrity of the (radio) spectrum
                        for licensed broadcasters."